17 Jun 2015

MBIE on notice over spending

1:12 pm on 17 June 2015

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce expects his ministry to keep a much closer eye on its spending to avoid wasting taxpayers money.

Display monitor in the reception of the The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

MBIE spent more than $140,000 on the monitor. Photo: RNZ

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment paid $140,747 for a large curved display screen for the reception area of its new central Wellington building.

It followed controversy about a stone sign, costing almost $70,000, for the street outside the building.

Steven Joyce talks about Sky City deal with the Government.

Steven Joyce Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Joyce said the spending on the display monitor was not a good use of taxpayers' money.

"I've been pretty clear with the Chief Executive of MBIE about that.

"The challenge with it is actually overall they've done a pretty reasonable job but they've let themselves down in a couple of areas."

The Ministry's chief executive David Smol has confirmed it spent $260,889 outfitting its head office reception area.

He told Morning Report the display monitor expenditure was a poor judgement and was his fault.

Asked whether the matter could have impact on his $620,000 salary, Mr Smol said it would be up to his employer.

"Ultimately I'm accountable for the things that the ministry does. I will have a conversation with my employer when we review my performance. That will be a matter for my employer."

Mr Joyce said his concern was the matter had not been escalated to Mr Smol at the time the decision was made.

"And he's agreed that in future that the approach he will take is that he will be sure that he's got somebody reporting to him on those sorts of items of expenditure - that I would have thought would have been reasonably obvious they should have been escalated to the CE."

Mr Joyce said any implications for Mr Smol as chief executive would be up to his direct employer, the State Services Commissioner, in his annual review.

" I have had one conversation with the State Services Commissioner when I've brought up this issue and my views of it.

"He's aware but then really it is his role, and I imagine it will, as I think Mr Smol has said, form part of his review, alongside lots of other things he's doing really well."

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